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Post  eddie on Sun Jul 10, 2011 2:52 pm

To Live Outside the Law by Leaf Fielding – review

Leaf Fielding's tales of dealing LSD evoke a lost era

William Leith guardian.co.uk, Thursday 7 July 2011 14.13 BST


Leaf Fielding, centre, photographed in Reading Wholefoods in 1976.

This memoir begins in a cottage in mid-Wales on 26 March 1977. Leaf Fielding wakes with a jolt. Somebody is shining a torch in his eyes. There's lots of shouting and swearing. He's dragged out of bed, arrested, taken to the police station. He realises the game is up; for a while, he's been in charge of distribution for a drug gang. He's led a secretive life, passing on hundreds of thousands of tablets of LSD. The police have been watching him for months. This is Operation Julie, one of the biggest drug busts ever. Now Leaf is going to jail. For ages.


To Live Outside the Law: Caught by Operation Julie, Britain's Biggest Drugs Bust by Leaf Fielding

As Leaf is processed through the criminal system, he casts his mind back. How did it all go so wrong? He hadn't meant any harm. In fact, he'd fervently believed that LSD would save the world. He tells us about his life. His father was an army officer. His mother died young. He was sent to an oppressive boarding school. He grew up hating the system, like so many people in the rigid, small-minded 1950s. He was in his early teens when the Beatles came on the scene; he was in his late teens during the Summer of Love in 1967. He was radicalised by the student riots in France in 1968. He was exactly the right age, class and temperament to become a hippie.

I really enjoyed this book. Not so much in the early parts, which tell the story of a drug dealer being arrested. It takes a while to figure out why you should care. But after about 50 pages, something clicked. Fielding seems to sum up his era perfectly. He was idealistic. He was a vegetarian, a dope-smoker, a guy who wanted to turn the rest of the world on. He thought that if everybody dropped acid, all the bad stuff in the world would stop. But he wasn't just a soppy guy with long hair. For years, he was a small-time criminal, drifting around the world, on the run, doing this and that – in other words, the genuine hippie experience.

Fielding tells it well – he went all over Europe and hung out in Turkey, Morocco and the Far East. It sounds romantic and that's because it was. The world was a different place then. This was before cars had locks on their petrol tanks, before everybody spoke English, before CCTV, before shops had alarms, before everybody got worried about hitchhikers, before dope was dangerous and horrible, before the police in one country had internet connections with the police in another country, before mass tourism, before youth tribalism had become commercialised. You could schmooze around the world, with virtually no money, selling drugs to stay alive. And feel you were a net contributor to society.

In some ways, this sounds sickening. But the thing that makes it work is that it's set in a prison cell. Fielding remembers his hippie days through the lens of his incarceration, which gives it even more of a hallucinogenic edge. There was barely a page I couldn't imagine vividly, as if this were a movie. I'm sure it will be made into one – a sort of international, politicised version of Withnail and I. You get a real feel of the grottiness of the student flats and bedsits of the 1970s, the guys in multicoloured outfits and Afghan coats. You can almost smell the Afghan coats. But Fielding also takes you to beautiful parts of the world – to beaches and mountains and lovely buildings in Florence. And then, suddenly, you're back in prison, with its routine violence and slop-out buckets.

So this is a book about how fab, and also how preposterous, it was to be a hippie. Fielding has encapsulated an era – the transgression, the crime, the clothes, the music, the makeshift drug labs. He reminds us that, in living memory, people believed that getting out of your head was a force for good, that LSD might just stop capitalism in its tracks. And then it all hit the buffers – killed off, not by the authorities, but by Johnny Rotten. Who'd have thought?

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Re: Drugs

Post  eddie on Fri Aug 19, 2011 3:06 pm

Ecstasy developed to treat cancer

August 19, 2011


Ecstasy is being developed as a potential cancer treatment

Ecstasy is being developed as a potential cancer treatment, it has been revealed.

Modified forms of the dance club drug may be effective against blood cancers such as leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma, early research suggests.

Six years ago scientists found that cancers affecting white blood cells appeared to respond to certain "psychotropic" drugs. These included weight loss pills, Prozac-type antidepressants, and amphetamine derivatives such as MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy.

The same team at the University of Birmingham has now revealed that specially modified forms of ecstasy boosted the drug's ability to destroy cancerous cells 100 times. Further work could lead to MDMA-derivatives being used in patient trials.

Professor John Gordon, from the university's School of Immunology and Infection, said: "This is an exciting next step towards using a modified form of MDMA to help people suffering from blood cancer. While we would not wish to give people false hope, the results of this research hold the potential for improvements in treatments in years to come."

Adapting ecstasy for use as a cancer drug initially presented serious problems. Research showed that the dose of MDMA needed to treat a tumour would prove fatal to the patient. To overcome this obstacle, the scientists set about isolating the drug's cancer-killing properties.

The new findings are published in the journal Investigational New Drugs.

Prof Gordon said the researchers are looking at ways to help MDMA molecules penetrate cancer cell walls more easily. He added: "We can theoretically make even more potent analogues of MDMA."

Dr David Grant, scientific director of the charity Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, which part-funded the study, said: "The prospect of being able to target blood cancer with a drug derived from ecstasy is a genuinely exciting proposition.

"Many types of lymphoma remain hard to treat and non-toxic drugs which are both effective and have few side effects are desperately needed. Further work is required but this research is a significant step forward in developing a potential new cancer drug."

AOL

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Re: Drugs

Post  Yakima Canutt on Fri Aug 19, 2011 3:40 pm

The Tarkington Dominion : Master Baiting to Biased Protocols During Confinement
by Shem Horrorwits
Newark Intelligencer-Monitor

We learn from his scraps of prison paper that Eugene Debs Hartke is a graduate of West Point and a veteran of the Vietnam War. He is a thoughtful but not tormented man who killed many human beings on the orders of his Government and dispensed many official lies as an information officer. After leaving Vietnam and the Army he becomes a teacher at Tarkington College in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, a gentle institution that specializes in nurturing the dyslexic and moronic sons and daughters of the ruling class.

After years of pleasant academic rustication, Hartke is fired from the college at the behest of a right-wing television demagogue who feels that Hartke is too pessimistic. Pessimism, as everyone knows and as the board of trustees reminds him, is un-American and probably even anti-American. A physics teacher, Hartke has made the mistake, among others, of informing his students that the idea of perpetual motion is a pipe dream. Unpatriotically, he explains, ''I see no harm in telling young people to prepare for failure rather than success, since failure is the main thing that is going to happen to them.''

When he is dismissed, ostensibly for sexual misconduct, Hartke finds employment just across the lake at the former state prison, run by a Japanese corporation that operates it much more efficiently and profitably than the state did. ''Color-coded'' prisons have become a growth industry, in part because most productive domestic industry has disappeared. ''Poor and powerless people, no matter how docile, were no longer of use to canny investors.'' The prison where Hartke works, near the college town of Scipio, is populated entirely by black inmates, the Supreme Court having decided that it was cruel and inhuman to confine one race with another. America has been largely resegregated -black insulated from white, rich from poor.

We must mention the computer program called GRIOT. By inputting certain characteristics of a person's life and current situation, the program can give an approximation of what sort of life that person might have had based on the database of lives the program can access. The main pieces of information required for GRIOT to work are: age, race, degree of education, and drug use.

Hartke mentions early on that he is suffering from tuberculosis at the time of his writings, and writes the word "cough" in the text every now and again as well as other descriptors to represent times when he coughed aloud while writing.

Hartke manages to teach some inmates how to read, though the immediate reported benefits of literacy are mainly an increased pleasure in masturbation and wider circulation for the anti-Semitic tract ''The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.'' ''The lesson I myself learned over and over again when teaching at the college and then the prison was the uselessness of information to most people, except as entertainment.''

When gang members launch a military operation to break out a drug dealer, the entire prison population escapes and crosses the frozen lake to the Tarkington campus. For a variety of reasons, not least the supposition that blacks could not possibly have planned the escape, Hartke is eventually arrested as the leader of the uprising and incarcerated himself. Prison may not be such a bad place to be in the year 2001. Most of the United States has been sold to foreigners, and what is left is broken down and depleted. Black markets, race war, martial law, tuberculosis and AIDS are all somewhere between endemic and epidemic.


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Re: Drugs

Post  eddie on Sun Nov 27, 2011 10:41 pm

Reefer madness in a final frenzy
Talking Politics – Thu, Nov 24, 2011.

Yahoo! News Blog

By Peter Reynolds



In the mid 1930s, after the end of alcohol prohibition, Harry Anslinger, former assistant commissioner at the Bureau of Prohibition, was settling into his exciting new job as head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and working on his next campaign.

"This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with negroes, entertainers and any others," he wrote in one of Randolph Hearst's newspapers. Hearst was behind the organised campaign against cannabis hemp, then one of America's most successful crops, by timber, oil and paper interests. The strategy was to slur the plant with the racist term "marijuana", demonise it, outlaw it and wipe it out.

Come forward about 80 years to the present day. In the US there is the White House drugs czar Gil Kerlikowske and the head of the DEA, Michelle Leonhart. In Britain we have James Brokenshire, the Home Office minister. These people are faithful in style and message to their role model Anslinger. They use arguments and propaganda of exactly the same type and value but adjusted to politically correct 2011 terms. Their weapon is deceit and their strategy is intransigence. The prejudice, discrimination and media scaremongering continues. As Anslinger had Randolph Hearst's media empire, so Brokenshire has the Daily Mail.
.
The Mail came out all guns blazing last week in response to the Global Initiative on Drug Policy Reform and the ex-head of MI5, Baroness Manningham-Buller, calling for legal regulation. Despite the furious propaganda war it has waged against cannabis and cannabis users the issue won't go away. Why? Because millions of British citizens regularly use and enjoy cannabis with no ill effects and many find it of enormous therapeutic benefit for conditions such as chronic pain, MS and Crohn's disease. Also, because this war on cannabis is just another war on people. It is futile, expensive and causes far more harm than it prevents. It has created the modern phenomenon of rented property being destroyed, electricity being stolen with human trafficked gardeners and intensive production of high potency cannabis.

For forty years the Daily Mail has been running its malevolent, systematic campaign of misinformation and false science. So successful has it been that it has had both the present and the former prime minister repeating its untruths like faithful disciples. Gordon Brown and Paul Dacre conspiring together to come out with the "skunk is lethal" buffoonery in 2008 is one of the most blatant examples of improper collusion between government and media. In March this year, in a YouTube Al Jazeera interview, David Cameron made a series of statements about cannabis that are absolutely false which despite repeated polite requests he has done nothing to correct. Even more astonishing is the way the Mail has brought its competitors along with it. Not just tabloids, even The Independent, which had made a noble and courageous stand for a rational policy back in 1997 was duped ten years later into its famous "Cannabis, An Apology" front page.

Duped is exactly the right word. Amongst a torrent of sensationalist claims there was "skunk cannabis is 25 times stronger", "more than 22,000 people were treated last year for cannabis addiction", that there was "growing proof that skunk causes mental illness and psychosis". All presented in accordance with the Daily Mail stylesheet.

All of The Independent's claims were false. The truth is that cannabis today is on average about two to three times stronger than it used to be, about 750 people each year are admitted to hospital for cannabis (while 3,000 are admitted for peanuts) and there is no proof at all of a causal link between cannabis and psychosis, only of correlation and increase in risk - but the increase is far greater for alcohol and tobacco use, even for energy drinks. Also alcohol is clearly proven actually to cause psychosis in around one per cent of users.

The best evidence about cannabis and psychosis is a review of all published research so, by definition, not cherry picked. It shows that, although there is no proof of causation, the risk of a correlation between lifetime cannabis use and a single psychotic episode is at worst 0.013% and probably less than 0.003%.

This mendacious campaign has criminalised millions of citizens, worldwide tens of thousands have been killed and millions more denied safe, effective and inexpensive relief from a wide range of diseases and conditions. What was originally driven by oil, timber and paper interests is now driven by Big Booze and Big Pharma. The first is terrified of a much safer, non-addictive, non-toxic alternative to its popular poison. The second is desperately trying to patent new varieties, extracts and components of the plant in the knowledge that modern science now proves that cannabis is as close to a panacea as possible. Only discovered in 1988, we now know that the endocannabinoid system is fundamental to all aspects of life. Endocannabinoid deficiency is now being postulated as the fundamental cause of cancers, MS, fibromyalgia and many other conditions. The only natural source of cannabinoids outside the body is the cannabis plant. No wonder that 100 years ago more than half of all medicines in the British pharmacopeia contained cannabis.

The Daily Mail's campaign has been remarkably successful. Make no mistake, virtually all of the reefer madness can be traced back to it. Other newspapers have followed its lead. Even police officers and members of the judiciary declare as facts what are actually Daily Mail scare stories. Funding for cannabis research is most easily available if a scientist subscribes to the Daily Mail agenda. The truth and the scientific evidence have been corrupted. Irrational prejudice has been promoted and swallowed whole by many who should know far better. It is a bandwagon that many have chosen to jump on.

What is the truth about cannabis? Another myth is that there is disagreement amongst scientists. This isn't the case. All the evidence points in the same direction - that cannabis use does increase the risk of psychosis and that the risk is greater at a younger age. This is meaningless though unless it is placed in context and compared with the risk from other activities. Then it is clear that, relatively speaking, cannabis is very safe.

The bizarre truth is that Professor Les Iversen, the government's chief drugs advisor, is on the record saying this again and again but the Daily Mail doesn't print it and the government ignores it, only accepting the advice it chooses to. Professor Iversen is also a long time advocate of the medicinal use of cannabis but the government continues with its inane position that "there is no medicinal value" in cannabis. Simultaneously, the Home Office has granted a unique monopoly licence to GW Pharmaceuticals to grow 20 tonnes of cannabis a year for medicinal use. You really couldn't make it up, could you?

Just last month GW announced the results of clinical trials which show that its super-strong, super-concentrated, 51% THC skunk cannabis medicine Sativex has "…limited relevant adverse effects and - particularly reassuring - the drug does not appear to lead to withdrawal effects if patients suddenly stop using it." It's a far cry from the usual hysteria about psychosis and addiction.

There is a furore in the US over medical marijuana. The DEA and the massive forces of prohibition see their business coming to an end. They are fighting back furiously but ultimately they cannot frustrate the declared will of the people. Seventy-seven per cent of all Americans now favour legalising medical marijuana on a federal level. Sixteen states have already done so. The market is predicted to be worth nearly $10 billion within a few years.

Last week Switzerland announced that cultivating four plants per person would no longer be an offence. It's one plant in Belgium, five plants in Holland and they're even less strict in Italy and Spain. The Czech Republic and Slovakia are reforming their laws. In Britain, cannabis production is regularly treated more severely than paedophilia or violent assault. Just a few plants can get you more than a year in prison.

Medicinal cannabis is available all over Europe except Britain and France. Residents of other European countries, prescribed cannabis by their doctor can bring it to Britain and use it without restriction under the protection of the Schengen Agreement. A British resident would risk jail.

The Daily Mail's campaign amounts to a hate crime against cannabis users. The Press Complaints Commission has proved itself incapable of correcting even blatant falsification of scientific evidence. More than a million people in Britain now have a criminal record for cannabis. According to independent research, every year our government gifts up to £9.5 billion to organised crime rather than adopting the safer, more responsible policy of tax and regulate.

All these factors are combining to make change urgent and imminent. We are witnessing the death throes of prohibition while its advocates make a desperate and frantic last stand, their final frenzy.

There is one huge obstacle left to overcome. How can our cowardly political leaders find a way to save face while reversing the dreadful policy they have
supported for so long? If any issue exposes the hypocrisy and dishonesty of politicians and the way that the media has an improper influence, then it is cannabis. We have to find a way to let them off the hook.

In years to come, the attitudes that now prevail towards people that choose cannabis will be as politically incorrect as racism, homophobia or denying women the vote. Cannabis is one of God's greatest gifts with which mankind has had a symbiotic relationship since the dawn of time. The prohibition experiment of the last 80 years has been a disaster. A rational approach will bring enormous benefits to our country, save billions in wasted expenditure, create thousands of new jobs, cut crime and disorder, provide tremendously safe and effective relief to millions in pain and disability. The time has come to embrace cannabis as the miraculous plant that it is.

Peter Reynolds is the leader of Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR), an officially registered UK political party with more than 5000 members. Next month, he will be giving evidence to the Leveson inquiry on the Press Complaints Commission and the influence the media has on drugs policy.

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Re: Drugs

Post  eddie on Sun Nov 27, 2011 11:00 pm


Confessions of an English Opium Eater- Thomas de Quincey

Though De Quincey was later criticized for giving too much attention to the pleasure of opium and not enough to the harsh negatives of addiction, The Pains of Opium is in fact significantly longer than The Pleasures. However, even when trying to convey darker truths, De Quincey's language can seem seduced by the compelling nature of the opium experience:

"The sense of space, and in the end, the sense of time, were both powerfully affected. Buildings, landscapes, &c. were exhibited in proportions so vast as the bodily eye is not fitted to conceive. Space swelled, and was amplified to an extent of unutterable infinity. This, however, did not disturb me so much as the vast expansion of time; I sometimes seemed to have lived for 70 or 100 years in one night; nay, sometimes had feelings representative of a millennium passed in that time, or, however, of a duration far beyond the limits of any human experience."

From its first appearance, the literary style of the Confessions attracted attention and comment. De Quincey was well-read in the English literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and assimilated influences and models from Sir Thomas Browne and other writers. Arguably the most famous and often-quoted passage in the Confessions is the apostrophe to opium in the final paragraph of The Pleasures:

"Oh! just, subtle, and mighty opium! that to the hearts of poor and rich alike, for the wounds that will never heal, and for 'the pangs that tempt the spirit to rebel,' bringest an assuaging balm; eloquent opium! that with thy potent rhetoric stealest away the purposes of wrath; and to the guilty man, for one night givest back the hopes of his youth, and hands washed pure of blood...."

De Quincey modelled this passage on the apostrophe "O eloquent, just and mightie Death!" in Sir Walter Raleigh's History of the World.

Earlier in The Pleasures of Opium, De Quincey describes the long walks he took through the London streets under the drug's influence:

"Some of these rambles led me to great distances; for an opium-eater is too happy to observe the motions of time. And sometimes in my attempts to steer homewards, upon nautical principles, by fixing my eye on the pole-star, and seeking ambitiously for a north-west passage, instead of circumnavigating all the capes and headlands I had doubled in my outward voyage, I came suddenly upon such knotty problems of alleys, such enigmatical entries, and such sphinx's riddles of streets without thoroughfares, as must, I conceive, baffle the audacity of porters, and confound the intellects of hackney-coachmen."

The Confessions represents De Quincey's initial effort to write what he called "impassioned prose," an effort that he would later resume in Suspiria de Profundis (1845) and The English Mail-Coach (1849).

(Wikipedia)

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Re: Drugs

Post  eddie on Sun Nov 27, 2011 11:12 pm


Kubla Khan- Samuel Taylor Coleridge


Holograph copy of Kubla Khan.

Kubla Khan is a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, completed in 1797 and published in Christabel, Kubla Khan, and the Pains of Sleep in 1816. According to Coleridge's Preface to Kubla Khan, the poem was composed one night after he experienced an opium influenced dream after reading a work describing Xanadu, the summer palace of the Mongol ruler and Emperor of China Kublai Khan.

Coleridge described how he wrote the poem in the preface to his collection of poems, Christabel, Kubla Khan, and the Pains of Sleep, published in 1816:

"In the summer of the year 1797, the Author, then in ill health, had retired to a lonely farm-house between Porlock and Linton, on the Exmoor confines of Somerset and Devonshire. In consequence of a slight indisposition, an anodyne [Laudanum = the alcoholic tincture of Opium] had been prescribed, from the effects of which he fell asleep in his chair at the moment that he was reading the following sentence, or words of the same substance, in 'Purchas's Pilgrimage': Here the Khan Kubla commanded a palace to be built, and a stately garden thereunto. And thus ten miles of fertile ground were inclosed with a wall. The Author continued for about three hours in a profound sleep, at least of the external senses, during which time he has the most vivid confidence, that he could not have composed less than from two to three hundred lines; if that indeed can be called composition in which all the images rose up before him as things with a parallel production of the correspondent expressions, without any sensation or consciousness of effort. On awakening he appeared to himself to have a distinct recollection of the whole, and taking his pen, ink, and paper, instantly and eagerly wrote down the lines that are here preserved." "A person on business from Porlock" interrupted him and he was never able to recapture more than "some eight or ten scattered lines and images."

(Wikipedia)

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Re: Drugs

Post  eddie on Sun Nov 27, 2011 11:22 pm

Xanadu - Kubla Khan

a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge


In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail:
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!

The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me
That with music loud and long
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed
And drunk the milk of Paradise.



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Re: Drugs

Post  eddie on Sun Nov 27, 2011 11:26 pm


Kubla Khan's pleasure dome.

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Re: Drugs

Post  eddie on Fri Jan 27, 2012 4:03 am

The Doors of Perception: What did Huxley see in mescaline?

Given his damaged sight, the book's emphasis on the visual is all the more piquant, complicating the question of how much its visions reveal

Sam Jordison

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 26 January 2012 15.18 GMT


Aldous Huxley in 1956, aged 61, days after he married Laura. Photograph: AP

Disconcertingly, given the detailed discussions of art and the visual world in The Doors Of Perception, Aldous Huxley was almost blind. Or, at least, some people said he was. Like much else in Huxley's life, the state of his vision was a source of considerable controversy and speculation.


The Doors of Perception: And Heaven and Hell
by Aldous Huxley

The known facts are these: in 1911, while this scion of one of the UK's foremost intellectual families was studying at Eton, he suffered from a very unpleasant illness called keratatis, which left him blind for several years. Huxley's vision recovered enough for him to study at Oxford, with the aid of thick glasses and a magnifying glass, but further deteriorated over the next 20 or so years.

It's in 1939 that things become murky. Desperate for help, Huxley was persuaded to pursue the Bates Method, a controversial theory (now largely debunked) suggesting, among other things, that glasses shouldn't be worn, natural sunlight could be beneficial and a series of exercises and techniques could help improve vision. He claimed impressive results: "Within a couple of months I was reading without spectacles and, what was better still, without strain and fatigue … At the present time, my vision, though very far from normal, is about twice as good as it used to be when I wore spectacles."

That quote comes from The Art Of Seeing, the book he published about his experiences with The Bates Method in 1942. Reviews, were mixed at best. The British Medical Journal review declared: "For the simple neurotic who has abundance of time to play with, Huxley's antics of palming, shifting, flashing, and the rest are probably as good treatment as any other system of Yogi or Couéism. To these the book may be of value. It is hardly possible that it will impress anyone endowed with common sense and a critical faculty."

In the same article the author suggested that Huxley's vision may actually have improved naturally with time as some conditions move in cycles. Others, meanwhile, doubted that he could see much at all. Wikipedia cites a Saturday Review column from Bennett Cerf published in 1952, just two years before The Doors Of Perception, describes Huxley speaking at a Hollywood banquet, wearing no glasses and seemingly reading from his notes with ease: "Then suddenly he faltered — and the disturbing truth became obvious. He wasn't reading his address at all. He had learned it by heart. To refresh his memory he brought the paper closer and closer to his eyes. When it was only an inch or so away he still couldn't read it, and had to fish for a magnifying glass in his pocket to make the typing visible to him. It was an agonising moment."

In Huxley's defence, he always admitted he still needed a magnifying glass, but whichever way you look at all these arguments, they add an edge to the writer's enthusiastic artistic criticism in The Doors Of Perception. Was he protesting too much? Alternatively, was his delight and concern for the visual world all the more heightened because he had fought so hard to retain his sight – and knew what it means to lose it. Given that The Art Of Seeing had aroused such anger and doubt, was he perhaps using the Doors Of Perception as a way to answer his critics? Is it possible that Huxley's subconscious was operating in ways he didn't care to acknowledge?

Well, maybe. But now I'm in the realm of speculation. Just before I leave, one more conjecture: Huxley wouldn't be entirely delighted at the suggestion the book is somehow about his eye trouble. For him, it was all about mescaline. The message was the drug and its astonishing potential. It marked (forgive me) the high point in a lifelong obsession.

As anyone familiar with Brave New World will know, Huxley's most famous novel also shows the influence of drugs. The citizens of the future are nearly all hopped up on Soma, a powerful hallucinogen that allows "a holiday" from reality, imparts a tremendous feeling of well-being, softens up the mind and poisons the body. In the climactic scene in the book, when John the Savage rebels against Fordist society, his anger is concentrated on Soma, which has come to symbolise all that is rotten in this future-state.

It's fascinating to re-read this earlier book in the light of The Doors Of Perception – especially since, in it, Huxley frequently suggests that Soma is very similar to mescaline in its effects. Back in the 1930s, he even described mescaline as a worse poison than Soma, rendering poor Linda vomitous and even dumber than usual.

Clearly, in the 22 years between the publication of the two books Huxley revised his opinions about the drug. By the time he finally sampled mescaline he was convinced it would offer him insight rather than the distraction from reality offered by Soma. As The Doors Of Perception demonstrates the drug exceeded his expectations. Huxley was to remain a dedicated psychonaut for the rest of his life.

On Christmas Eve 1955, he took his first dose of LSD, an experience he was to repeat often and he claimed allowed him to plumb even greater depths than mescaline. The literary culmination of this self-medication can be seen in Island, the 1962 novel, which can be viewed as an answer to Brave New World. It describes a utopia rather than a dystopia, and this time around drugs perform an entirely beneficial function, providing serenity and understanding. They are as the book puts it, "medicine".

Ironically, Pala, Huxley's utopia sounds even worse than the alternative future Huxley describes in Brave New World. The Palanese are crashing bores. They are the kind of people who (in one of the most inadvertently hilarious passages I've read) think it's OK to rewrite the climax of Oedipus Rex with a lecture from some Palanese children, who inform the luckless mother-lover that he is being "silly" and ought to follow their philosophy rather than tear his eyes out … But never mind that. Although it is awful in many regards, Island still holds the charm of Huxley's cultured prose and fertile mind. The knowledge that he wrote the book shortly after his first wife died from cancer and he himself had received a terminal diagnosis also adds real poignancy to the book's many passages about coping with disease. One of his ideas is that tripping may ease the passage into that good night – advice he famously took on 22 November 1963 when he asked his wife second wife Laura Huxley to give him LSD. "Light and free you let go, darling; forward and up," she whispered to him as he drifted away. "You are going forward and up; you are going toward the light."

We'll never know how Huxley's final trip went, but we do know that his psychedelic experiments had a remarkable afterlife. (Psychedelic, incidentally, was a word Huxley helped coin along with Humphry Osmond. Huxley can lay considerable claim to kick-starting the 1960s revolution in the head. It wasn't just the fact that The Doors Of Perception was so influential. He was also personally instrumental in introducing luminaries like Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary to the possibilities of psychedelic experimentation (as described in the early pages of Martin Lee and Bruce Shlain's Acid Dreams, the definitive story of the way LSD swept through America in the 1960s – thanks to the many contributors Reading group who recommended that).

It's safe to say that Huxley changed the world. Without him there might have been no turn on, tune in, drop out, no Merry Pranksters, no Sergeant Pepper, no Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, no Focus.

I scoffed when I read JG Ballard's introduction to my edition of The Doors Of Perception and he said that the book was "even more prophetic" than Brave New World (and also, incidentally, that Brave New World is more prophetic than Orwell's 1984). As this Reading group month draws to a close, I can see that – as usual – Ballard was quite right. The book didn't just point the way to the future (or one potential version of it), it changed it. The big question now is whether it has opened any doors for you? Has Huxley changed your view of mescaline and/or reality? And are you tempted to follow in his footsteps?

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Re: Drugs

Post  eddie on Sat Feb 18, 2012 9:21 pm

Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil - review

A compelling tale of Mumbai's hazy world of opium addiction

Kevin Rushby

guardian.co.uk, Friday 17 February 2012 22.55 GMT


Photograph: Yang Liu/Corbis

Narcotic drugs have inspired much storytelling and literary dreaming, if rather less actual writing. Of those few novels that slide out of the smoke on to paper, we assume addiction is a requisite for authenticity and yet an enormous hindrance to productivity. After all, it is hardly playing by the rules of decadence and dereliction to find the willpower and tenacity to finish a manuscript. But a tiny number do convince the public that theirs is a genuine account of an addiction whose clutches the writer escaped for long enough to scribble down a compelling narrative: think William Burroughs's Junky, or Thomas de Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium Eater.


Narcopolis
by Jeet Thayil

Does Jeet Thayil's Narcopolis, a tale of opium dens and heroin addiction in Mumbai, join that select club? It is not an easy task. And there's another challenge: many books by foreign-educated Indians read as though they were written in a New York penthouse suite, the author having spent a couple of weeks researching a multi-generational, sprawling saga of Mumbai lowlife by chatting to the house servants of their relatives on the phone.

The story opens in Rashid's opium house on Shuklaji Street sometime in the 1970s. We meet the owner himself, his regular clients and Dimple, the eunuch, who prepares his pipes. Very gently, we are drawn in to their languorous world. Thayil is an accomplished poet and that sensibility serves him well. We slide in and out of characters' lives, emerging occasionally inside a vivid drug-induced recollection: like that of Mr Lee, a former soldier who fled communist China and gives us as sharp a portrait of that country in the late 1940s as one could wish for.

We move onward with the years. Hippies arrive and begin to appreciate the quality of Rashid's opium, the attention to detail in pipe preparation, the warm cocooning charm of it all. This is an India that itself was dreaming, wrapped up in Gandhian ideals of self-sufficiency and simplicity, ignoring the tsunami of change that would not strike until the 1991 economic liberalisation. I was in Mumbai in those days, on my first trip to India, sleeping in shoddy dives and living on cheap street food. He pins down that world perfectly; he even pins down us shabby western travellers with a few painfully precise words: "interloper[s] from the future come to gawk at the poor and unfortunate who lived in a time before antibiotics and television and aeroplanes".

For Rashid and Dimple that change arrives in the form of heroin, a drug that seems to herald a new world order, one more savage and hopeless than anything that went before. All the regulars switch. As the city disintegrates into communal riots, murder and mayhem, their own lives are in freefall too, and the story of that fall becomes an epic tragedy written with grace, passion and empathy. Thayil unpicks the complexities, contradictions and hypocrisies of Indian life with surgical elegance: the good Muslim selling heroin while complaining about brazen women, the queenly beggarwoman who makes the street her living room, and the Hindu praying in church, an action that saves her from the mob but not her fate.

There is a subplot about a murderer that doesn't add much to the story, and a dud note is struck when Dimple starts to opine on Baudelaire and Cocteau. However, I wished that this book, like some long and delicious opium-induced daydream, would go on and on. The end, sadly, does eventually come. India has been reincarnating behind the blue smoke of the last pipes. We catch its reflection in the gleam of the heroin user's silver foil and then there it is: the new country, standing hard and metallic and just as crazily conflicted and mired in melancholy as the last version of itself. In a shiny nightclub full of plastic and aluminium, Rashid's son stares at the scantily clad women. He sells cocaine. He dances. He is a good Muslim in his own eyes. He might consider becoming a suicide bomber when the time is right.

Narcopolis is a blistering debut that can indeed stand proudly on the shelf next to Burroughs and De Quincey. Thayil is quoted as saying that he lost almost 20 years of his life to addiction, but on this showing the experience did not go to waste. We can celebrate that he emerged intact and gave us this book.

• Kevin Rushby's Paradise: A History of the Idea that Rules the World is published by Robinson.

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Re: Drugs

Post  eddie on Sat Feb 18, 2012 9:26 pm


Junkie/Junky by William S Burroughs (William Lee)

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Re: Drugs

Post  Yakima Canutt on Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:14 pm


Arrow

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Re: Drugs

Post  senorita on Wed Oct 03, 2012 1:48 pm

What's the frequency Kenneth?


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Re: Drugs

Post  blue moon on Wed Oct 03, 2012 7:29 pm

Michael wrote:I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,

dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix...


Howl
'Poet Allen Ginsberg claimed his introduction to Artaud, specifically "To Have Done with the Judgement of god", by Carl Solomon had a tremendous influence on his most famous poem "Howl".' [Wiki]

From memory, Artaud threw his supply of heoin over a mountainside in Mexico, the better to experience peyote when he arrived at the village at the top of the mountain. He was so sick he had to be lifted on his donkey and tied on.


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Re: Drugs

Post  Yakima Canutt on Tue Apr 22, 2014 7:29 pm

MASAKA IS COMING.


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Re: Drugs

Post  Yakima Canutt on Sun Jun 08, 2014 7:54 pm


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Re: Drugs

Post  pinhedz on Sun Jun 08, 2014 10:43 pm

Yakima Canutt wrote:a lot of people nead to remember that Budweiser can be a strong drug too ... once Nan's barber said he was so thirsty ( to the max) from cutting so much hair that he was going to drink a lot of beech-wood aged Budweiser, and he lost control and ran his golf caddy cart into Nan's bushes and when Nan confronted the barber he dismissed Nan and was not taking Nan seriously and he shouted that Nan's bushes were too brown and untidy anyhow! Nan was speechless, Nan really was! it's all too much
^
It's true--a yootuber that was watching "Reefer Madness" said that when he stopped smoking pot, he just stopped, but when he stopped drinking ethyl alcohol he didn't stop shaking for 6 weeks.  

btw, "Reefer Madness" starts out with a bunch of pseudo-scientific spouting that's so flakey it reminds me of Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth."
           


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Re: Drugs

Post  pinhedz on Sun Jun 08, 2014 10:52 pm

REEFER MADNESS really was the INCONVENIENT TRUTH of it's day (despite the unusual spelling convention):


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Re: Drugs

Post  pinhedz on Sun Jun 08, 2014 11:15 pm

'60s potheads could only dream of being this cool:


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Re: Drugs

Post  pinhedz on Sun Jun 08, 2014 11:16 pm

I have observed this shocking effect myself. Shocked 


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Re: Drugs

Post  Yakima Canutt on Mon Jun 09, 2014 8:00 am






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Re: Drugs

Post  Yakima Canutt on Tue Sep 09, 2014 3:47 pm




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Re: Drugs

Post  Yakima Canutt on Tue Sep 09, 2014 3:55 pm




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Re: Drugs

Post  Yakima Canutt on Fri Oct 03, 2014 6:17 pm



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Re: Drugs

Post  Yakima Canutt on Fri Mar 20, 2015 7:53 pm



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Re: Drugs

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